First, with a slice of chocolate chip pound cake from the local bakery for breakfast. Then, just now, with a bowl of Moose Tracks ice cream. Tonight, I plan on preparing goulash for dinner like my mama used to make...tomato based with lots of beef and noodles; the ultimate comfort food. Sorry, broccoli, I'll get back with you tomorrow.
What brings on a day where there is only one way to survive it with comfort in the form of food? Total and complete stress of the 125-year-old-house-renovation kind! But the fact that I can even joke about it is progress that I have not gone completely off the deep end of the pool with no swimming lessons because there have been some days lately when I thought I truly would not make it through with my sanity intact!
The last few weeks have been beyond stressful. I'd like to follow that comment with this: If you are even thinking about renovating an old house and have never done it before, please think about it long and hard. Okay, that was your official warning. It'll take way longer than you think it will, it'll cost way more than you think it'll cost, and it might be looked upon one day as the one thing in your life where you look back and remember with great angst all the things that practically took away your religion not once, but more than once a week and sometimes multiple times in a day. I'm being honest with you at the risk of upsetting some, there have been moments when the only thing that would give me instant relief from the stress at hand was to yell as loud as I could (thankful this house is on a two-acre plot!) or just to cuss (as we say in the south). I'm not talking "down and filthy" language and it takes a lot to draw a curse word out of me, but I'm talking a couple of four-letter words that seem to be useful for relieving stress in probably not the best way, but the only line of coping you seem to have at the moment. There is no taking a wee nap for stress relief when you're working against the clock to achieve X, Y, and Z before sundown. There is no time for the luxury of a mani-pedi for stress relief, even though such things are definitely needed for the dirt that seems perpetually stuck underneath your fingernails (and toenails, ugh!), even though you shower every night. No time for a relaxing glass of wine when you're surviving on granola bars and nuts and peanut butter crackers and whatever you can stockpile on the kitchen shelf. Sometimes, you just need to cuss.
Now, with that being said and I hope you won't judge me over the aforementioned, I am taking this day to rest, recoup my sanity, catch up on some overdue chores and just BE. If you know me well, you know that taking time to just "be," is crucial to my sanity. It's what gets me through so many weeks. Today is my day. I took it without guilt, and I am enjoying it without guilt. And I'm self-medicating with all my favorite foods.
Yesterday was a day from hell. And I'm not cussing when I say that, I mean it literally. It started off innocently enough, but by late afternoon it had deteriorated into a day that -- how can I say it -- was a pivotal point not only in the renovation, but in my life! Painting has begun in the house and, due to the fact that we're painting 125-year-old tongue and groove and have no idea what kind of stain or sealer was used back then, we're covering our tracks with oil-based primer. Have you ever worked with it? No fun...no fun AT ALL. It's sticky and messy and has horrendous fumes. Now, I won't say who -- and you will never get it out of me -- but someone on the crew inhaled too many fumes (in spite of face and breathing gear and open ventilation) and went into serious crazy mode, to the point that I threatened to call the paramedics and sit on this person till they arrived if necessary. And if you've ever had me sit on you, then you know it's not a pleasant thing. Ask my sister (my older "smaller than me" sister). She experienced it firsthand growing up. The day was only to get worse...for the first time in this year-renovation I fell on the jobsite. There have been numerous uncovered vents in the house for months and I have never stepped in one but, you guessed it, yesterday was my day. Thankfully, I came out of the fall unscathed, save for a scraped elbow, a scraped shin, full-body soreness, and a cut on my toe. Those poor, pitiful toes. Not sure they will ever be the same.
Ironically enough, our daughters are deep in the throes of house renovations right now. They both just bought fixer-upper's and have delved into the unknown land of attempting to take a house (one is 50+ years old and one is 70 years old) from so-so to whooooa! I surely would've thought that seeing the crazy things their parents have encountered in renovating homes (unknowns like snake infestations and rot and mold) that they would have literally run in the opposite direction, fixating on buying homes that are turnkey, ready to move right in. Both of our daughters are smart, educated women and have careers and family that keep them very busy, but they chose to renovate. In a great pondering of this phenomenon, I think I've come upon an astounding truth: it's in our blood! And when something is in your blood, it gives you life no matter how hard it might be at times. I have pretty much decided I will stick to less than 125-year-old properties for future renovation projects, though. Give me a 20 or 30-year-old home to renovate and, baby, I'm on it.
So I think I might be finished venting now. It really helped; thank you for listening. At least I didn't cuss. In spite of having the day I consider the worst one so far in this current reno, we ended the day still alive and having moved the project forward a bit. I'll say it again for the record: "I will NOT do another house this old!" But while reading Southern Living magazine (June 2018 issue), there is an article about the restoration of a four-over-four Greek Revival mansion in rural Georgia that has been painstakingly restored over the last 16 years and it totally stirred my soul. I mean, I've never done a two-story four-over-four Greek revivial, and I love those! Don't you just love Greek Revivals and any old house because of the history?
I'm not sayin' it was me whose brain was affected by the inhalation of too many fumes but, in light of that last paragraph, it sure sounds like it, right?
Naw, I'm pretty agile for my age, but even I can't sit on myself!
"Energy and persistence conquer all things."
- Benjamin Franklin
I have been trying to get this post written for a week now! Crazy times. Crazy times.
Now that the excitement of the wedding and all the festivities that go along with it are just a memory (albeit a sparkling one!), it's time to get back to work and finish this renovation so we can move on to other things. Just as I've felt in the past with other projects, I am SO READY to be finished! Even though this house will forever hold a special place in my heart and memory, it is time to birth this baby that has been gestating for right at a year now. Sometimes I walk into the house and I feel quite attached and protective and then other times (mostly!) I have less than positive thoughts like I am SO tired of this house! If I see another piece of wood or encounter another problem, I am outta here! But then I come to my senses and remember that every project eventually sees completion and I take another day to make some progress, another moment to reflect on how far we've come and, before I know it, I'm off the struggle bus and onto the gratitude wagon once again. It is gonna be a stunning cottage home for just the right person filled with history and awesome repurposed materials, but with all the modern day conveniences that we've come to expect. I know you're out there, beautiful buyer, and we're getting your home ready for you!
This week the drywall is being finished! I am excited about this because I know once drywall is complete, there are two major things left to do: 1) PAINT! and 2) FLOORS (the refinishing of, that is)! I commented to our drywall contractor that I'll bet he's never seen anyone as excited about drywall as me and the hubs! But then I explained to him we have literally been looking at dark, open, empty walls for probably nine months now. Understood! By the time this sweet little cottage is put on the market, we will have completed brand-new electrical, brand-new plumbing, brand-new HVAC, brand-new appliances, granite and quartz countertops housing a huge white country sink in the kitchen (where there was NO kitchen), and the cutest, tiniest little sink in the half bath you've ever seen, a luxury master bath complete with twin vanities and a fabulous soaking tub, added that master bath, half bath and laundry closet where before there was NONE, put down repurposed floors where there were none, completely refinished floors original to the house, and a million other things (such as adding closets and renovating four beautiful fireplaces--two of which are operable). Whewwww... As I sit and think through this list, many small things come to mind that only the hubs and I know but that help to make this home comfy and livable, like trying to add storage wherever possible and wifi in the master bath. Countless hours have gone into planning, repurposing, and reconfiguring the square footage to make the spaces functional. And we've done all of this keeping in mind the history of this house and trying to preserve that history and honor its roots. We've come such a long way! But if I've said it once, I've said it a hundred times; the devil is definitely in the details. It's those little things at the end of a renovation that take so much time ...like making sure every piece of trim is installed correctly, that every little nook and cranny is just the way it's supposed to be, making sure everything is buttoned down, and lots and lots of touch-up on literally every room in the house -- oh, the finishing touch ups!
Looks like I'm finally gonna get to post today and, with it being Mother's Day, I'd like to comment on this annual day that we set aside to honor these heroines that so many times go unrecognized the rest of the year. I don't care what you've done in your life, if you have mothered a child -- biologically, through adoption, through fostering, however -- you have been involved in the most critical work of your life. It takes a person committed to a lifetime of sacrifice to be a good mother. And don't be misled, just because your kids might be grown, it doesn't mean you stop mothering. Good mothering is a lifetime affair...from the day you become a mother till the day you leave this earth. One of the things that stand out the most in my mind when my mother was in her last days...she wanted pictures of her kids all around her. She knew that was her life's best work and she loved us beyond measure. Thanks for all you do to invest in not only the future of this world, but eternity as well. Every good thing done by a mother for a child I believe is eternal, because those acts of love and sacrifice will be passed down generation after generation. Your sacrifice does not go unnoticed by me.
If you want to know just how much I really appreciate mothers, scroll back to my post from last year on May 13th. It's a essay dedicated just to mothers and their sacrificial work on this earth.
Happy Mother's Day!
"All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother."
- Abraham Lincoln
Posted by CC
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